A scullery maid turned nightclub performer steals the screen -- and the leading man -- from her rival.
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Critic Reviews for Piccadilly
Dupont has an original way of employing camera movement to suggest erotic chemistry between characters, and Wong, who even provoked a rave notice from Walter Benjamin, is as memorable and confident as Louise Brooks was in the films of G.W. Pabst.
Like most English pictures, the drama is crudely shaped and conventionally directed. Anna May Wong does the best acting.
Music is the usual medley of pop dance stuff, with the cabaret set about the best thing in the production. Camerawork on close-ups is excellent.
The melodramatic machinations of the plot may be weak, but Dupont's assured direction, Alfred Jünge's art direction, and Werner Brandes' lighting create an atmosphere so hauntingly evocative as to be satisfying in itself.
A swinging London club; the breakup of a famous performing couple; a well-known dancer being replaced by one younger and more exotic; a murder. All juicy fodder for plot, and it's a good thing.
[Wong's] role of Shosho, the red-hot dancing star of London's Piccadilly nightclub, shows her at her dramatic and erotic peak.
Dupont's stunning evocation of London's roaring twenties would be of cinematic interest even without Wong; but her sultry presence makes this backstage melodrama a must-see.
It's difficult to imagine a Hollywood production allowing an Asian star to be as commanding as Wong is in Piccadilly.
A drama of sexual and racial politics set against the buzz of jazz-age London culture, Piccadilly is an incredibly modern silent film featuring a career-best performance from Anna May Wong.
[Wong] is not top billed, but her entrance in Piccadilly -- and her general presence -- make her the star.
Wong has acquired a loyal cult following over the years, and Dupont's exquisitely filmed episodes show why.
Audience Reviews for Piccadilly
Piccadilly is just amazing. Right from the start I was instantly impressed with the costumes and settings, obviously being a silent film set in the period it was made, it felt like I was watching a piece of history, like being put in a time machine for a few hours. The look and feel of the film are worth a ten on their own, to be honest, but in reviewing it, I felt I could only give it a good review if it's other elements, plot, acting etc. were up to scratch, and they were too. In the few silent films I've seen, the acting has been very "stage acting" over the top and dramatic, so I was expecting to see more hams than I'd see in a butcher, but I got some really great performances, I was really impressed, especially by King Ho Chang who played Jim. Right, plot summary then, the film is about the Piccadilly Club losing it's main attraction, a dancer named Victor, and discovering his successor in the club's own scullery. What then follows is a typical love triangle plot, between the new dancer, Shosho, the club owner, Valentine and Victor's old dance partner, Mabel. As simple as the plot sounds, despite being made 77 years ago it manages to not come off clichéd, which is a remarkable achievement. The fact that it is a silent film I think helped it in my eyes. To be honest, if this were made as a "talkie" I think I would have found it harder to like, as the great constant score gave these images a beautiful dreamlike quality and to strip it away for just a few seconds to hear actors speaking dialogue would have certainly destroyed it. Maybe it was just that Piccadilly was the first really decent silent film I've sat down and paid attention to, maybe it's that I was in the mood for it, or maybe it is just a great film.More
A typical romance drama mystery involving dancers who are fighting over a man, nothing new. It's not horrible, but it's not good either.More
"piccadilly" is anna may wong's attempt to escape american social discrimination of minorities which hinders her career in hollywood, so she flees to germany for the production of "piccadilly" which contributes to her european stardom along with louise brooks' conquering success for "pandora's box". with the relentles indulgence of the "interracial romance" theme, anna mae emanates her noirish glitter of oriental temptress to the utmost level, BUT is "piccadilly" trully a breakthru for the negative racial stereotype then?
wong plays a scullery maid who gets fired for dancing upon the kitchen table, but the cabret manager suddenly comes up with a whim to hire her as the new attraction while himself is in torid affair with the major cabret star. then the little chinese woman dresses in the mystic buddist garment, swirling her slim shape eccentricly to enchant the men all around. besides she succeeds in seducing the cabret manager as her prey of love, then the manager's caucasion girlfriend comes along to dissuade her of this affair. then a faint cry occurs, wong's gets slaughtered by her fellow chinese boyfriend who is inflicted with simmering jealousy.
privately wong feels quite complacent that she could be able to be an explicit seductress in "piccadilly" without the obstacle of racial segregation. crudely speaking, the stance of this flick's racial politics remains derogatory, and her position is still the sexually compliant oriental female who prawls her way to pander the major white male audience, taking pride at her vindicative sexual triumph as the dialogue suggests: "i wish you give him up, i know you don't love him" "i shall keep the man you cannot keep"...and such defiant attitude would be punished in the 20s american cinema, but the expressionistic german cinema embraces such exotic stimulus with full acceptance.
the poster of "piccadilly" shows a bare-chested anna mae brazenly dances along the melody that might be an urgent pursuit of sexual liberation in oriental woman, OR a pimpish exploitation of volutary prostitution from oriental women, as if she's saying: welcome to my chamber room, i'm here naked awaiting you. such whoring image is, of course, banned by chinese government then since it degrades chinese woman as willing mistress for caucasion males that would be considered a national disgrace in the conservative china.
the primitive stage of feminism in roaring twenties would be to emulate men with your sexual liberty(be free like a man, make love then leave) as the concept of vivacious flapper as well as "phallic woman" starts to proper in society then. anna may wong is a peculiar case as the chinese flapper, so wong's poise of minority feminism would be to rival white woman with your sex appeal to demonstrate your range of freedom as a suppressed oriental female. but just like the rumination of feminism which is faciliating men with your private santuary, anna may wong's cinematic revolution in europe ends in the same errosive retribution.
An American Asian star who gives a standout performance in an European film is quite groundbreaking!
I will also add that it is one of the most interesting silent film of its period because it touches upon many subjects which were normally censored. Director Arnold Bennett clearly showed a modern view of Western European cinema.
Hence, i would recommend this silent film to cinephiles who enjoy the early days of cinema.
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